Buying Cigarettes
I came - I saw - I bought

Cigarettes Getting Stubbed Out on Campus?

A group of students is out to change the Marlboro Man image on campus.

Over the course of an hour, six students were able to pick up 1,558 cigarette butts around campus. That amounts to 260 butts per student.

Many Californian universities have installed a smoking ban, including San Jose State University. But Santa Clara's campus is still home to the coffin nails. Last year, The California Youth Advocacy Network gave Santa Clara a "D" on its smoking policy

After receiving the bad grade, Director of Public Health Science Craig Stephens submitted a proposal to the university to change the policy to transition Santa Clara to a smoke-free campus. According to the proposal, this would reduce tobacco litter on-campus, decrease exposure to secondhand smoke, and prevent students from developing a nicotine addiction.

The proposal also discusses the dangers of secondhand smoke. Stephens explained that exposure is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 50,000 non-smokers each year.

But after submitting the proposal, he felt the university wasn't addressing it. In response, Stephens assembled a team of students to help move things along. He felt that the policy was more likely to be changed if the effort came from the students themselves. According to senior Claire Anderson, the committee meets about once a week to discuss what has been done and what they still need to do.

This isn't the first time that there was an attempt to change the policy. In 2011, the Center for Disease Control awarded a grant to the California Youth Advocacy Network, who in turn gave some of the money to Santa Clara University to encourage changing the policy. This money went towards creating a survey to find out what students know about the policy, and what they'd like to see change. However, the effort and enthusiasm fizzled out after last year, and survey data was never collected.

This year, students in the Public Health Department are again working hard and surveying to see how they feel about banning smoking.

That survey was distributed this quarter. The committee's goal was to survey about half of the undergraduate population and see whether or not students supported a smoke-free campus.

Senior Carlos Gomez heads the committee. He brought the smoking ban idea to the Associated Student Government, and now members are working together with the committee to tally survey data and discuss solutions.

So far, survey data seems to indicate that students would support banning smoking. 57.6% of respondents (588 students) indicated that they would support SCU becoming a "100% smoke-free campus." The next step in this push will be presenting the data collected to the university to try and move the smoke-free policy forward.

A common issue raised is that even if the policy passes, it will be difficult to enforce. While this is a dilemma, Gomez and Anderson are confident that they will be able to find a solution. In the proposal, Stephens suggests using Human Resources, the Student Judicial Board and Campus Safety to punish repeated offenders.

Banning smoking from Santa Clara is a work in progress, and if the university does become smoke free, it will still take awhile for the effects to be noticed. As Gomez explained, "We want to take action for our own health."

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

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